High school maths blew some serious chunks. I don't know about you, but as soon as they started adding letters to numbers and then kept insisting they were still numbers... my eyes would glaze over and I'd go back to daydreaming about what I would say to the New Kids On The Block when I met them.
But, for me, all of that was yet to come in the '90s. In primary school... maths was FUN. Think I've lost my marbles? Well read on and I'll remind you just how good we had it growing up in a mathematics rich environment.
First up... My First Counting Book. A Little Golden Book classic. If you were an '80s kid there's a pretty solid chance that you were gifted this book, or something very similar, before you could even walk.
Fine motor skills & dexterity takes care of itself, but sweet baby cheeses don't let my kid be the dumbarse of the class!
Pretty kitties playing around with numbered balls, teaching us all how to count, was the answer. What could be more fun than that for the budding mathematician?
Once you had finished your basic training modules under the fine tutelage of the kittens, it was time to move on to some form of tangible counting apparatus. For me, that was a carton of counting eggs.
You would crack all the eggs open, then see how quickly you could jam the two halves of the same numbered egg back together. And once learning time was over, you had a rad grocery item all ready for when you played shops with your friends. Brilliant!
Even TV was rooting for us to get our maths skills in order. One of the best Sesame Street segments was the pinball numbers song. It was like a psychedelic, out of body experience to watch those balls ping about all over the place. And that groovy song! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-twel-el-el-el-el-elve... TWELVE! Numbers. So much fun.
And of course we can't forget Count von Count? His passion for counting can only be described by today's standards as akin to a MasterChef contestant's passion for cooking. Watching The Count and Cookie Monster try to play nice over a plate of cookies was all I ever needed to get excited about maths.
Fun maths was all around us as kids. I don't think I've ever seen a doctor's waiting room that didn't have an abacus.
Looking at it now, I can't even remember how a damn abacus even works, but maybe the whole objective of playing with an abacus was to give off the vibe that you knew exactly what you were doing, and were totally addicted to learning.
Spinning coloured beads on a wooden rack? You just go on ahead and sign me up for those super-happy-fun-times please!
So after we'd mastered counting on the abacus (or at the very least creating the illusion of counting on the abacus) it was time to gear up with backpacks twice our size, a pencil case full of novelty erasers, and head off to school. Shit was about to get really real. And it came in the form of Unifix Cubes!
I can still remember the joy of watching our teacher haul out the box of Unifix Cubes. Getting the best colours was of course the first priority, lest you get stuck with all the brown ones. They'll only mess with your ability to maths.
Most days at my school began with sitting on the floor chanting times tables eleventy seventy times. To this day I really have to question how effective this mode of learning really was. I still have to think a lot harder than I ought to for the 6 / 7 / 8 times tables. Go figure.
Once we had chanted ourselves silly, we progressed to flash cards. The fun times just kept coming, if for no other reason than we got to sit on the floor beside our friends for a while. It's the simple things, you know?
Primary school was really just a series of important rites of passage. Every star sticker or stamp you got on your work was a hi-5 from your teacher to you.
Every ribbon you won at sports carnival was like winning a gold medal - unless you were me and in which case you displayed your "participation" ribbons just as proudly and hoped nobody would notice the difference.
Earning your cursive writing licence, which in turn opened up a whole new world of PENS to you, was just the most exciting thing ever. And if you were an Aussie kid - chances are you got to experience the ultimate rite of passage... taking control of your finances with a Commonwealth Bank Dollarmites account!
Every second Friday morning the dude from the Commonwealth Bank would rock on up to our school. We would hand him our hard-earned coinage and, in turn, he would stamp the receipt in our cool little cheque books.
It was all rather thrilling for us since we could see our savings adding up each week. The dude always had a stash of merch on him too, so he soon became a trusted friend.
It was a genius marketing campaign when you think about. Take the next generation of home-owners & entrepreneurs (or in my case - struggling writers) and have them associate your brand with positive outcomes. At the time though, all we ever thought about was how FUN those little Dollarmite Aliens were!
Because banking. Because maths. Because fun.
But if you still need further proof that maths was actually fun once upon a time, I hereby enter into evidence Exhibit H. I drop the mic, and exit the room with a level of swagger that is usually the exclusive domain of The Hoff.
Now if you'll excuse me, I must away to practice some more what I might say to Jordan Knight when I meet him.